Barcelona have faced some harsh criticism from fans and the media in recent weeks following losses to Atletico Madrid, Granada and Real Madrid, and wing-back Dani Alves hit back at some of the members of the media following the team's 2-1 Copa del Rey loss to Los Blancos.
In his post-match interview, Alves didn't mince his words (Warning: Some NSFW language):
We had several good moments but after (Gareth) Bale’s goal, we weren't able to react. All we can do now is ask for forgiveness. They’re going to rain a lot of criticism on us, but I think we’re above all that.
We’re like the stock market; if we win, we have value and if we don’t…That’s how I feel about this profession. In football, if you win you’re great and if you lose, you're s--t.
Alves' criticism seemed to be aimed at the media more than the fans though, as he said:
Above all, I wish to ask for forgiveness of those who came here tonight to support us. We’re not going to look for any more excuses, there’s no going back. We leave here, annoyed, saddened and we congratulate the champions.
La Blaugrana have endured a nightmare month as a potential transfer ban, explained by the BBC's John Watson, was followed by the team's exit from the UEFA Champions League and a shock loss to Granada, which saw Barcelona lose ground in the race for the Spanish La Liga title.
Wednesday's loss in the final of the Copa del Rey has the team in danger of finishing the 2013-14 season without any silverware, something that has been a rarity for the Catalan giants in recent years. Unsurprisingly, the criticism Gerardo Martino and his players have faced has been hard at times.
SBNation's Xoel Cardenas has been calling this recent run of results an "end of an era" and has released several articles on the subject accordingly, and this latest result has him believing even more:
So, will NOW people believe me that it's el FIN DE CICLO?!!!!!— Xoel Càrdenas (@XoelCardenas) April 16, 2014
Goal's Ben Hayward was equally harsh in his piece, released after the loss to Real:
So eager to prove themselves post-Pep, some of the missing motivation of which Guardiola had spoken returned and in La Liga at least, all seemed well.
In truth, though, Tito's team had ridden their luck through a number of games in the first round of the Primera Division, with the issues in defence and an ageing midfield, plus over-dependence on an over-burdened Messi who subsequently suffered injury not especially evident while results remained good.
But the damaging defeat to Bayern brought Barca back down to Earth with a bang, while the 3-1 semi-final loss at home to Madrid in the Copa del Rey was also painful. [...]
And so it proved as, within the space of one woeful week, Barca's season has imploded.
Faced with such criticism, Alves' reaction is perhaps understandable. Not only have his team and manager been under fire, but the Brazilian international has also been one of the players targeted by the media.
Cardenas was none too impressed with his performance against Real:
Can I give Dani Alves a player rating of -7/10 tonight?— Xoel Càrdenas (@XoelCardenas) April 16, 2014
Dani Alves has been a disgrace tonight.— Xoel Càrdenas (@XoelCardenas) April 16, 2014
La Masia were less harsh in their wording, but perhaps all the more in their assessment:
Said this a thousand times before: Dani Alves is a defensive liability.— La Masia (@Youngcules) April 16, 2014
With social media such a widespread phenomenon, these kinds of messages will often find their way to the players in question, and no matter how thick one's skin might be, reading something like this will hurt.
With only five matches remaining in La Liga, and the gap between league leaders Atletico and third-placed Barcelona at four points, the chances of La Blaugrana completing the comeback to win the league would appear to be slim.
If Barcelona finish the year trophy-less for the first time in six years, the criticism will only grow louder during the coming weeks.
As shared by Barcastuff, one could also question whether the experienced right-back still has the club in his corner:
Right back Dani Alves (30) is not worried about Barcelona not starting renewal talks as he could then leave on a free transfer in 2015. [md]— barcastuff (@barcastuff) March 22, 2014
Alves and Barcelona must now hope for some results to go their way in the coming weeks, because the fans and media will not pity the Brazilian and his team-mates if they continue losing.